Saturday, January 15, 2011

Big News: US Girl with the Dr-oh who cares?

This week, we got the first publicly-released shots of Rooney Mara dressed as Lisbeth Salander, aka "The Girl with Dragon Tattoo." They're ok(?), but the whole idea is dumb. January 11th audiences shouldn't be teased for a December 21st show. Worse, this movie shouldn't even be made. Here's the stupid photo:

The composition, I like, but is she a teen hooker from Eastern Europe?

I've never seen anything else the old "Girl" did. Nor do I like chiming in just to complain. Understand that I'm writing about why this happened, why I don't like it, and how it might've worked out better. Take a few minutes, please - I'll try to be quick about it.

Now, I already reviewed "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." I've seen its sequels, though I haven't had time to write them up. I've posted before about my issues with US distributors changing foreign films, which I discuss regularly; if you look on the far right, 25 times. Two days ago, I took a look at Japan's "Spirited Away."

"TGwtDT" is a very good movie - I wrote as much already. It was based on a Swedish book, was filmed by a bunch of Swedes, and all three parts in the series were released in 2009 (how's that for a fast turn-around?). There are no more finished books to base movies on, because the author (Stieg Larsson) died. Do you know what all these facts mean?

They mean that a film version of this set has already "said everything it had to say." So that's it; there is no need for anyone to spend money on an American re-make. Just give the original trilogy a large-scale domestic (I mean my country) release.

Come to think of it, US distributors could already have made a ton of money here. They would have, if there had been a widespread State-side release of the great original.  It would've been a cash cow during the books' steady heyday in America, when articles on them were everywhere... when the Swedish version (2 tv movies, 1 film) was being released (here or abroad).

She's a suicide girl! I thought that was over already.

Think about it: now the only news is about some re-make that'll play the next time you're tired of holiday music. How much less relevant and popular will it be by then? Will the effort to complete and publish Larsson's unfinished manuscripts be done by then? Will it tie in to the new flick? Will I care and will it deserve my $11 more than Sweden's attempt at book 1?

So this re-make comes down to three unfortunate modern trends: (a) a  money-making plan that starts with zero creativity, (b) creating unnecessary new copyrights for a popular work, and (c) Tinseltown's insistence on keeping America narcissistic. Everyone knows the 3 big attitudes at play by now: the US is a huge film market, Americans won't watch foreign films, and "everyone wants to see Hollywood's take on it."

Even as a simple publicity hype for a picture - or a piece of "news" - it's a waste. It's coming out 10 days before 2012! The year just started, and I'm going to salivate over a crowd-member from a GWAR concert?! That's not even an important complaint - how about putting more attention on the original film? Or the original actress, Noomi Rapace, from the 2009 movies that had a limited US run throughout 2010?

No, now she's probably Rammstein's sound check girl/stage slave.

It's weird, complaining when people adapt things. We're humans, and it's pretty natural for us to take something and "make it our own." Also, no one expects anyone to learn the original language of every author they read, then read those writers' books in those languages. I guess the real dividing point is that movies are just entertainment - and, often, not the most thoughtful entertainment, either.

So I'd say that it's not weird to complain when Hollywood decides what entertainment is fitting for American audiences (much less the global market it dominates). The adaptation of foreign films is a statement that Americans can't or won't be interested in them. This attitude overtly boils down to "Americans just don't care unless it's (1) about an American, (2) takes place in the US, or (3) is in the English language."

I can only speculate on the truth of that sentiment. Surely, a lot of my country-men (and -women) are not known for speaking other languages or being really interested in world events. But that attitude I wrote in the paragraph above? It's just a self-fulfilling prophecy, and an ignorant one at that. Americans won't know what they're missing (or if they'd like it) when you utterly limit their exposure to foreign things.

No, she used to work at Tower Records in Greenwich Village.

It actually gets nearly insulting when you think about the other dynamic going on here: Hollywood's frequent lack of originality and creativity. No American author or LA screen-writer came up with this story. Rather than trying to write good tales, someone just bought the re-make rights and altered it to suit some imaginary sense of taste.

It's one thing to add extra salt to your food. But it's very different to say that you ordered a meal just so you could add the leftovers to your home-made soup. That's wasteful, and a little demeaning to the cook.

To give some credit: artistically, I can't fault their choice of directors. If David Fincher released something titled "Paint Peeling," it would probably be great. And DF announced that his work will cover the source material differently, instead of remaking the other flix. That's the only thing you can really do, in these circumstances - it maintains artistic credibility and says your movie isn't totally pointless. Yet after 428 minutes of existing film, it's still so... wasteful and annoying.

How about this? I would feel differently if David Fincher revealed that he was dying to make his own version, then I learned that Hollywood decided to let him do it.

Wait, it's the high school kid who clearly needs attention but rejects society.

Here's the funny part: the original sequels didn't live up to the first installment. The 2nd film in the trilogy was fair/ok. The third flick was decent/ok, but had serious errors in pace, tone, and plotting; it was saved by an effective, solid ending. It made me want to read the book, partly to learn what they were trying to do. I wish I could go back in time and suggest some simple-yet-key changes...

Even though it all peaked early for me, I'd never want to see a 200 million dollar version. Nor one that's been "specially-treated for those who hate subtitles, or foreigners, or foreign places, or anything that makes you feel small or different or less deluded about your own importance." I especially don't want to see the overblown/almost-desperate marketing campaign to follow.

There are nice things about the invention of the video screen. The best is that you can watch things that are very far away. You don't have to be in Paris to see French tv or films. To re-cast everything in America just because "we only like ourselves" - that's just self-obsession. It's like saying I only want to watch movies that are filmed in my city or involve my profession and life-style. It's like saying that I'd only want to watch pictures about me. How stupid, and vain, is that?

 And then they do this and lose all my respect.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Chime in!